This is 39: Day 26.Survival.



You’ve spent your whole life convincing yourself of things.

He’s not a bad boy. He loves you. He puts his poison in your mouth and you drink it because he doesn’t hit you. He knows you. He loves you more than all the rest.

I can live without you.

They won’t notice your body-big and blooming. They will notice the hard-fought poem that kept you up last night-the slant rhyme, the image, the effortless onomatopoeia.

I can live without you.

He will do what he says. She means what she says. They will do the right thing.

I can live without you.

He can’t live without me. I am a tether to this earth, and he must hold on.

I can live without you.

Your value is not defined by the weight of your mattress. It can hold one. It can hold only you.

I can live without you.

He is a good man. He will do the right thing. He will mean what he says. He will do what he is supposed to do. He will shelter me. He will protect me.

You’ve spent your whole life convincing yourself of things.

And then one day you stop.

They will notice only your body. He is not a good boy, man, woman. He will not mean what he says. She will not be honest with you. You will need to protect you. Your value is defined by the throb of your heart-broken or whole.

You can live without him. You can live without her.

You know how to survive now.

This is 39.


Amye Archer is 39. She is the author of Fat Girl, Skinny, a memoir about skinny jeans, Weight Watchers meetings, and horrible life choices. Follow her at @amyearcher

Why I’m Fat…and Trump

sad-505857_1920I don’t want to share this, I shouldn’t have to share this part of my life, but I cannot stay silent any longer. I, like most women, am disgusted by not only Trump himself, but more so by the attempts of his supporters to dismiss his lewd, sexual comments as “locker room talk.” What’s happening with the Trump campaign and the rhetoric surrounding this election is striking a familiar chord somewhere inside of me, and it’s time I tell you all how Donald Trump made me fat.

As a teenager, I developed quickly and early and the boys noticed-as did the girls. In gym class, I tried everything I could think of to get out of running, jumping, or any other activity that would cause the boys to hoot and holler at my bouncing breasts. Boys dated me because of my body, and other girls called me a slut for the same reason. I learned early on that my body was something I should be ashamed of. That idea-body and shame-rooted itself inside of me and bore fruit for years and years in the form of bad decisions and self-loathing.

Sometimes, I welcomed the attention. If a cute boy said hello in the hallway, I smiled. If a boy told me I was pretty, I accepted that compliment. But the language never stayed benign. The rhetoric always escalated. There were nicknames, obscene gestures, forced sexual encounters. What should have been a kiss always ended with a hand under my shirt. Boys would grab my breasts under the bleachers at the football games, press themselves against me in dark corners at parties, or break up with me after I refused to allow their hands to wander. At 12, 13, and 14 years old, I never knew how to handle the Donald Trumps of this world and their overtly aggressive and sexual advances. I didn’t know how to respond, how to handle what I perceived as ridicule, or how to hide my body from them.

Then, I discovered a way. I began turning to food for comfort and protection.I know now that I didn’t want boys to stop paying attention to me altogether, I just wanted them to pay the right kind of attention. I wanted boys to notice my sense of humor, to appreciate my intelligence, and if they thought I was pretty-I’d take that too. What I didn’t want was the boys leering at my breasts, thinking I was easy because I was shaped a certain way, and for girls to hate me because of it.

In my late teens/early twenties, I gained a massive amount of weight, hence changing the shape of my body. And while being fat brought with it a new kind of shame, in many ways it felt safer. I felt safe. I found a boy who loved me in the right way, who saw my humor, my mind, my inner beauty, and who-for a while anyway-loved me for those things. I didn’t attract attention from men on the street anymore. Girls didn’t hate me. I was still ashamed of my body, but I no longer felt unsafe because of it. I had finally found a way to protect myself from the Trumps of this world, from the boys and men who had reduced me to a sexual commodity.

Today, I am 39. I have two daughters and a wonderfully supportive husband. I am a better weight, not great, but better, and have learned to love the body I have. Still, the Trumps of the world are out there. It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while a man will make a comment or an advance that focuses once again on my body-specifically my breasts, and I am immediately 12 years old again and can still taste that shame on my tongue. The instinct to hide myself from sexual aggression is a reflex born out of a lifetime of feeling ashamed of my body. It is the tree still living inside of me-no longer bearing fruit-but refusing to wither.

That’s why Trump’s campaign of sexism and hatred is so very dangerous. Many of us still have that tree inside of us. We know what it feels like to be objectified, to be ridiculed, or worse yet, to be sexually assaulted. Trump’s comments went beyond any “locker room” talk I’ve ever heard, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t heard them somewhere before. I’ve heard talk like this under the breath of the boy pressed against me in that dark corner at a party, before I could wiggle out of his grasp and before I could muster the word “no.”

If you ask me what I want for my 9-year-old daughters the list is long. I want them to be strong, to have a solid education, to make their mark on the world with kindness, not power. But if I could only have one thing-just one wish for my children-it would be that they find their voice and they learn how to use it for change. Simply put, I want better for my girls. I hope they never have to feel how their mommy felt, or her mommy, or her mommy before her.


Amye Archer is the author of Fat Girl, Skinny. Follow her at @amyearcher

An Open Letter to Millennial Voters

Dear Millennials,

I get it. I get you. As a student of generational dynamics, I’ve studied your generation quite a bit. I know, for example, that you’re pretty pissed off at me right now because you resent me telling you that I know you because, you can’t be known. You’re unpredictable, rebellious, you are custom-your own person. How dare I suppose to know what you’re thinking or feeling? Part of this knee-jerk reaction to conformity is the fault of my generation, Gen X. We raised you, and for the most part, we hovered. We were latchkey kids, raised with minimal supervision, and we vowed never to do that to you. We went to all of your soccer practices, trotted the entire extended family out for gymnastic competitions, argued with teachers when you were unjustifiably held inside during recess, bought you cars when you turned sixteen, gave you our credit cards willingly, and pretty much guided your lives along a track, rather than letting you forge a path.

Now, you’re pissed off. You want to buck against the status quo and what better way to stick it to the rest of us than to vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson? They’re outsiders. They’re not the “institution.” And I get that. I am the child of Baby Boomers, the quintessential provocateurs, and that resistance to conformity has been baked into me as well. In sixth grade, I flat out refused to support the first Gulf War, I held walkouts to protest the use of Styrofoam trays in the cafeteria, and as a high schooler I dumped out all of the testers at the Estee Lauder perfume counter because they tested on animals.  While I’m certain that none of those actions resulted in change, it felt damn good to be an agent of chaos, even if only for a fleeting moment.

But now, I’m a mom to two beautiful nine-year-old girls. I’m a teacher, a wife, and a citizen in my community. I pay taxes and attend school board meetings to see how those tax dollars are spent. I have a husband who equally supports our family with a union job. I worry about the economy, carry a mountain of student loan debt, and vote in every single election, especially the primaries.

My point is, I have a lot riding on politics now. When I was your age, I didn’t. If the government was running at a deficit, legislating against labor unions, or rolling back women’s healthcare, it didn’t affect me greatly at 18, 19, even 21 years old. At that young age, I cared more about feeling heard than I did about actual policy. Well, I’m here to tell you that we hear you Millennials, we do.

You are one of the greatest generations to have lived. In the short time you’ve been adulting, you have helped lead this country to some amazing milestones. You’re the least racist, most inclusive generation to have come along. You’ve legalized same-sex marriage, questioned gender roles, and advocated for mainstream education for all. You’ve connected us through social networks, transformed mass media, and showed us all how to express anger through emojis. But perhaps your greatest accomplishment, at least for you older Millennials, is that you gifted us the election of Barack Obama.


So, I beg of you this- don’t let all the awesomeness you’ve helped create be destroyed.  If Trump wins this election, he has promised to rollback same-sex marriage, dismantle LGBTQ protections, and will appoint one, possibly two, Supreme Court justices. Why is that latter point so important? The religious right in this country is chomping at the bit to defund Planned Parenthood and to overturn Roe v. Wade. Trump will help them do so. Think about that for a second. You-the independent generation who wants complete autonomy from the government- will live in a country where the government will tell you what you can and cannot do with your body. Could you live with that?

I understand you don’t like Hillary. She’s charged outrageous speaking fees for private engagements, she deleted a whole shitload of emails, and she appears stiff when she should be laughing or relaxed. But she is the candidate your generation has created. Those of you who worked so hard to support Bernie Sanders helped make Hillary the candidate she is today-way more progressive and to the left than she ever was. She’s not pandering, she’s evolving. And she’s evolving because of you. You want to be heard? Hillary has heard you. She’s evolved on same-sex marriage, on public education, on trade, and even on the drug war. And we have you to thank for this transformation.

So, this November, I beg of you to do one thing: think of Bernie. Think of the legacy you’ve helped him create, the work you’ve done together on social reform, and help him get those policies and promises into the white house. I get the appeal of a third party, really I do. And I’m with you that they should have more of platform and voice than they do. And if this were 2008 or 2012, when a reasonable, not-so-scary republican were on the other end of the ticket, I’d say go ahead! Vote your conscience. But, I’m afraid Millennials, that this time is different. We need you now to help us. We need you to once again give us the president we deserve, not one that will erase everything you’ve worked for.

Simply put, you gave us Obama. Please don’t follow that act of graciousness with the delivery of President Trump.

This is 39: Day One

Today I turned 39.

If you slide your hand up the outside of my right leg, you will feel her-a deep, pulsating river zig-zagging against your palm. She breathes like a thunderstorm. She fades against the autumn air.

This is 39.

I have begun shoving things in my bra. Tissues, my cell phone, my writing notebook. Things are safe there, resting against the thump of my heart. I have no pockets.

This is 39.

My hair dying is now a necessity. Blood red dye against the white porcelain of my claw-foot tub reminds me of watching Psycho with my grandmother. Janet Leigh seemed so old to me then. She was an adult.

This is 39.

On Tuesday I moved a couch, a chaise lounge, a coffee table, a 10×10 rug, and then I moved them all back again. On Wednesday I saw my chiropractor and iced my shoulder.

This is 39.

I tell rude boys and mean girls to fuck off with ease.

This is 39.

On Friday nights I go to bed with Bill Maher and always fall asleep before New Rules.

This is 39.

I still make promises to myself, still feel there is ground to cover, choices to be made, journeys on which to embark. I still look to the stars with awe.

This is 39.


The Drunk Boys

Here’s how a poem happens.

You’re watching a reality show where people meet one another at the altar and get married. Your house is quiet. Your twins are asleep in matching but separate beds, your husband is asleep on the couch, and the dog you didn’t want but love anyway has wedged her weight against your hip, drool slipping from the corners of her loose sigh. One woman is having difficulty kissing her new husband. His body angles toward her like a coworker asking what she did last Friday. There’s a hint of sexuality, but she’s not entirely sure it’s for her. You begin thinking about the wine. Give him some wine, you think, he’ll open up.

Here’s how a poem happens.

You’re watching trashy reality shows on a Friday night while your family sleeps around you. The dog you didn’t want but love anyway, the dog who knew exactly the right amount of pressure to place against your body in the hours after your grandmother died, shifts and twitches as you whisper-yell at the TV. Get him drunk, it will fix everything.

Here’s how a poem happens.

You’re watching a reality show where no one is getting laid, and your response is to add alcohol. Then you realize: you’ve always trusted the booze more than the boys. The booze will make them honest, unzip their hearts and pull you in. You have been told some of the most flattering things by drunk boys with diamonds in their mouths: you are beautiful, you are sexy, you could be my girlfriend, you are beautiful, you are sexy, you are worth my time. The dog you didn’t want but love anyway stares at you with the world behind her chocolate eyes.


Here’s how a poem happens.

You remember the booze and the man who wore it on his breath. You remember the rage, the pain, the invention of love. You remember the tip of the knife against the flesh of your neck, the fear in your veins. Your body forgets sometimes, but the memory of him lives at the tip of your pen. You wonder when “drunk” has ever made anything right in your life.

Here’s how a poem happens.

In your safe, comfortable home with a man whose heart has no clasp, a dog whose breath is measured against your own, and twin girls who hum sleep like two notes of the same stringed instrument. Far away from the booze and the boys and the bars.

Here’s how a poem happens.

You think to yourself, I should write a poem about this.


Amye Archer is the author of Fat Girl, Skinny, a memoir about waiting, weight-ing, skinny jeans, fat girls, bad choices, and happy endings. You can buy it here.

The Book Inside of You

I was on a debut author’s panel over the weekend at the fabulous Hippocamp to discuss my memoir, Fat Girl, Skinny.  If you haven’t heard of Hippocampus Magazine, I suggest you check them out, it is a brilliant pub and the conference they hold each year is wonderfully inspiring. Anyway, the panel I was on was one in which myself and four other authors each described our road to publication.

The audience was eagerly awaiting our answers. They asked great questions and I hope we satisfied them with our responses. However, now that I have a few days distance and more than ten seconds to respond, I’d like to answer two of the questions I was asked a bit more thoroughly.


Here I am (left) with two amazing authors: Jamie Brickhouse (Dangerous When Wet) and Laurie Jean Cannady (Crave: Sojourn of a Soul) 

First, I was asked how I knew I had a book in me. The answer I gave was truthful. I had always written poetry, and when asked to write a short creative nonfiction piece for one of my graduate classes, I fell in love. My poetry has always been so confessional that expanding that same voice out to a longer narrative felt good actually. It was like allowing my memory to stretch its legs. I also liked writing with a dash of humor. I tend to be the person always looking to make a joke in real life, so again, putting that on the page felt natural.

But on a more serious note, I didn’t know I had a book in me for a long time. You see, I was married young and it didn’t go well. I married into comfort because I was fat and ashamed and my self-confidence was in the toilet. I married the boy who accepted me, instead of a boy who loved me. When the marriage finally disintegrated, as we knew it would, I knew I had to do something about my weight or I would fall back into the same bad habits. So, I joined Weight Watchers, lost some weight, and started to feel good about myself and the life I began to shape. That’s it. I never thought that story was anything extraordinary, I mean, this happens to a lot of us right? My friends and I call it the divorce diet. I just started writing about it, and decided to be grossly honest. And that, is where my story sprung from: truth.

Writing a memoir doesn’t always take an extraordinary story. It takes extraordinary honesty. People don’t always read memoir to discover the great feats you’ve accomplished, they read memoir because they’re looking for some part of themselves in your story. They look for that recognition, the universal truth that connects the memoirist and their reader. I didn’t know I had a story in me until I started to read my pieces in front of people, until I met men and women who approached me after readings to say “That happened to me,” or “I’ve struggled with weight my whole life, I can relate.” It wasn’t until I started realizing the universality of my seemingly ordinary story, that I realized its power lay in accessibility. Which brings me to the second question.

I was also asked about feedback I’ve received. I talked a little bit about the feedback I find most rewarding, and that is from young men and women who have shared with me their weight-related stories. But I wanted to share an example with you. This came in late last night, and it brought me to tears when I read it.

From an Amazon reader:

I would recommend this book to anyone who’s struggled with their weight, or an addiction. I think this is a story that so many people can relate to on multiple levels.

I went from anorexia, to bulimia in my life. I would read stories of eating disorders, and instead of marveling at how they recovered, I’d wonder if I could make what they used to get so emaciated, would work for me. This is the first book, having to do with eating disorders, that made me want to work for the weight loss, instead of doing something extreme and dangerous while hoping for immediate results.

I can’t praise this book enough, nor Amye, for laying it all out there for us, allowing the rest of us to have hope.

This review means the world to me. To think that my story, my vulnerabilities, may have helped someone is overwhelming. This is the feedback that keeps me writing, that makes every rejection (and there were A LOT of them), every edit, every revision, and every tear shed, worth it. It’s comments like this that remind me of one simple truth: everyone has a story to be told, because everyone has a life they’ve lived. It doesn’t have to be exciting, it has to be true.

Thank you to those reviewers who let authors know that a book has moved you. And thank you to everyone at Hippocamp, especially Donna Talarico-Beerman, Hippocampus Magazine’s creator. You’ve created a culture of acceptance and inspiration that I’m confident will grow and nurture writers for many years to come.



I Fucking Hate My Body, and I’m Tired of Pretending I Don’t.

A few weeks ago I read an article called I F*cking Love My Body.   I tried to get into it, to understand the message, to feel the same pride in my inherited features, but I cannot pretend to be something I’m not. No matter how hard I try. So, this was born:

I fucking hate my body, and I’m tired of pretending I don’t.

I buy dresses, hike them up above the knee, feel the swoosh of them on the back of my thighs, but cannot forget the purple inky veins slinking across my skin. Blue, black, deep red, these lines remind me to pull it down, tug it over my ass, stay grounded, stay knee-length in all things.

I buy new bras, smaller across the back, skinnier straps for a slimmer body, yet the cups remain overflowing. My breasts hang heavy with past mistakes. The valleys in my shoulders remind me of their heft.

I buy panties with the most elastic, walk past the lace, past the high hip cuts, straight to the strongest, sturdiest pair. I buy black, hoping there is some sex appeal left in color.

I buy tools to quantify my being. My digital scale holds bad news. My FitBit says I haven’t done enough. My Fitness Pal says I’ve overeaten again.

I fucking hate my body, and I’m tired of pretending I don’t.

I can’t wear short shorts because of my veins.

I can’t wear tank tops because of my floppy biceps.

I can’t wear a bathing suit in public.

I can’t sit down without worrying about muffin top.

I can’t be naked in the daylight in front of my husband, ever.

I can’t fake it. I never could.

I fucking hate my body, and I’m tired of pretending I don’t.

But, I love the inside. The red, gushy throb of my love, the seemingly endless canals of hope, the equal parts sweet and snark.

I just wish I could turn myself inside out and meet you heart first.


Amye Archer is the author of Fat Girl, Skinny, a memoir about waiting, weight-ing, skinny jeans, fat girls, bad choices, and happy endings. You can buy it here.

Review of Amye Archer’s Fat Girl, Skinny

Thanks to Brevity for reviewing Fat Girl, Skinny! So exciting!

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

41YCR2btxyL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_By Debbie Hagan

I’m working on a memoir about mental illness, and, at times, the process feels like a long, combative, and slightly schizophrenic therapy session. One part of me lies on the couch, reluctant to divulge details. The other part of me sits in the chair, pen poised, grilling my prone self: What did you mean by that? Are you telling the truth? Why are you so defensive? What’s wrong with you?

The analyst part of me can be rather brutal. That’s why me, quivering on the couch, eventually pops up, storms to the door, and cries, You’re just trying to embarrass me. While me in the chair shouts, Wait! We were just getting to the good stuff.

After a few hours of this, I sit back and wonder, have I at last fallen into the black abyss?

Reading Amy Archer’s sassy memoir Fat Girl, Skinny (Big Table…

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To Some of the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I’m working on a new book. It’s coming along, but sometimes writing a whole book can be so solitary. You live in this world, you and the voice-the narrator-and you live there alone. For a long time. Sometimes, I just need to break that solitude and write something, and get it up here on the blog and out into the world. So, in that vein-here’s a little poem I worked on this morning. It’s rough, but I’m spent. I hope you enjoy it.

To Some of the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I dream in previous lives-the one where you’re young and carve our initials into a tree planted in the middle of a parking lot at the nearby high school.  You propose to me there-I accept, act surprised, even though I orchestrated the entire moment-right down to paying for the ring.

You mother is a soft woman. Her birthing you and your siblings was her greatest achievement. Her raising of you is the light burning in her belly for the past forty years. Later, when I think of the word mother, I will think of her-always. Her kindness was just what a chubby, insecure teenage girl needed. I keep the good parts of her with me, mother my girls with her heart.


On a hot, fall night you teach me to play Radiohead’s Creep, my favorite song.  You press my plump fingers down into a bar chord and slide our fused hands up and down the thick neck of my cheap guitar.  We make music together.  I mistake your tenderness for love. Sing the touch of your skin into every Radiohead song.

There are chapters of books living in the back of my throat. They hold the stories of our break ups, our failures, your hands on my body. They hold the story of my babies, of how I willed them into existence with sheer want. How they could have been yours, or his, but found the exact right man.

I braid my daughter’s black-brown hair. Three strands thick and sturdy fold effortlessly into two, then fall together into one. She loses patience with me when I have to pull it all apart and start again.

I dream in past versions of myself-call my husband your name in my head sometimes, fix his coffee like yours, wonder if you remember the way we sometimes fit together like the ocean and the sand-one resting atop another.

I write in meaningless parts-our life together carousel-ing into my daughter’s childhood, us as teenagers against a black sky in the backyard of the home my husband built for me. Car parts and extra brothers resting elbows on a table I no longer own.

I don’t know how to separate you completely out.

But, I’m learning.

One poem at a time.


Amye Archer is the author of Fat Girl, Skinny, a memoir about waiting, weight-ing, skinny jeans, fat girls, bad choices, and happy endings. You can buy it here.


New Craft Essay

I’m so pleased to have a new craft essay in this month’s Brevity. Brevity is one of my all time favorite publications, so to be included in an issue is amazing!!!

Anyway, I wrote about perspective and emotional distance in memoir. Here it is if you’d like to check it out!